CENTRAL AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL MEDIA ASSOCIATION
The first fully owned Aboriginal radio service in Australia, the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA), was dreamt up by two men: John Macumba, a Pitjantjatjara man, and Philip Batty, a teacher at Papunya. 8HA in Alice Springs gave them the 9 p.m. Sunday timeslot to present the Aboriginal Half Hour; they were joined by Freda Glynn (Thornton). On 12 May 1980, CAAMA was incorporated under the Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976, and began producing programs in an old Telecom building in Alice Springs, using ex-ABC equipment. The Australian Film Commission, private donors and the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations provided grants and training funds.
By 26 January 1981 CAAMA was broadcasting one and a half hours Monday to Friday over the Central Australian Community College’s 8CCC, increasing to 30 hours a week by 1982. It also negotiated access to the ABC’s short-wave service. In August, anticipating the AUSSAT 1 satellite, CAAMA presented a submission to the Department of Communications to broadcast to 78 remote communities, ex-government missions and pastoral properties. John Macumba left CAAMA in 1981, and Philip Batty and Freda Glynn became directors.
CAAMA Music began in 1981 when CAAMA distributed its recorded Aboriginal music as one-hour CAAMA cassettes to communities without access to radio. A mobile recording studio came next, and by 1990 CAAMA had established its music label, producing more than 800 albums in 15 Aboriginal languages. CAAMA Shops was established as a music and Aboriginal arts and crafts retail outlet.
CAAMA emphasised that Aboriginal people develop media themselves to promote cultural identity, language and music, and to provide training, employment and income-generation. In May 1982, CAAMA submitted an expression of interest for an ‘S’ (special interest Aboriginal) public broadcasting radio licence with a terrestrial network to Ali Curung (Warrabri), Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) and N’taria (Hermannsburg). The licence was granted in May 1984, the first in Australia. (In 1992 special interest licences were changed by the Australian Broadcasting Authority to community radio licences.) Since February 1985 CAAMA 8KIN- FM has broadcast news and music to listeners in Central Australia and beyond in English, Eastern and Western Arrernte, Pitjantjatjara, Luritja, Warlpiri, Kaytetye and Anmatyerr.
The CAAMA Video Production Unit was established in February 1984, making videos to communicate between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. CAAMA Productions, the largest Indigenous production house in Australia, has won awards for magazine and documentaries Urrpeye (1985–88) and Nganampa Anwernkenh (2008), short films Cold Turkey (2002), Green Bush (2005) and My Colour Your Kind, and children’s drama Double Trouble (2007), and co-produced the Cannes International Camera d’Or award-winning Samson & Delilah (2010).
In a legendary battle, CAAMA won the commercial television licence for Imparja Pty Limited, began broadcasting on 15 January 1988, and remains a major shareholder. In 1995, it built its own premises and studios. In 2010, CAAMA reincorporated under the Corporation (Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006. John Macumba died in 2010; in 2012, CAAMA opened the John Macumba Training Room in his memory. CAAMA celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2011.
REFs: W. Bell, ‘The Totem of the Clan’ (PhD thesis, 1984) and A Remote Possibility (2008).